Category Archives: Brisbane

Time Chaser

I always write I’m a light chaser and a weather chaser but lately I seem to be chasing time mostly. Too much to do and could not catch up with time (something about needing to get the Delorean up to 88 miles per hour!).

Been very busy with my photography business and doing some freelance IT-consulting and a tonnes of other stuff + the light has been boring for a week (weather’s been great but boring light from cloudless skies) so I haven’t shot anything new nor found the time to write. Need to catch up with time and need better light over Copenhagen (a small thing to ask!)

Going through the RAW files from last year I did find a few new keepers from Brisbane, one of my favourite cities in Australia. A cityscape at dusk and an amazing sunset panorama from Lamington National Park 2 hours south of good old Brissy:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Brisbane River & Skyline at dusk
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Lamington National Park Sunset Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The cityscape from Brisbane really shows you how nice the sky lights up at dusk and how good a digital sensor is at picking up the red colours in the atmosphere. And the highrises of Brissy are impressive!

The sunset from Lamington National Park is just a sunset shot, but it was an incredible one at that with great colours and cloud definitions.  Both shots received a bit of ‘painting’ with light but later today I’m picking up my Wacom 6×8″ tablet so expect my next batch of shots to be painted with light like it was going out of fashion!

Photographer, sunlover, stormchaser, weatherman

I miss the sun. I miss the tropical heat. I miss light. Any light that isn’t gray will do. I wasn’t build for the cold dark Northern Winter (did I mention I also hate snow?) so this is clearly not my best time of the year! The reward for getting through these Winter days up here in Scandinavia is the long lovely Summer days. They do seem awfully far away at the moment and a Qantas flight down under seems an awfully attractive response to Winter. Either that or hibernation until Spring dominates our weather.

As a landscape and cityscape shooter I study the weather and especially the clouds constantly. I look for extraordinary light and sky when I shoot my landscapes and cityscapes. First thing I do when I travel to a new place is note the time and the place where the sun rises and sets. You can’t predict extraordinary light but you can certainly improve your changes of catching it if it happens!

Extraordinary light doesn’t mean it cannot be very cloudy and the sun doesn’t even have to be out. The sky and the light just have to have some drama! 100% sunny summer days with no clouds are lovely – but not good for my photography either. I need dramatic light! The worst days though are the totally overcast totally gray days which we unfortunately get a lot of in the Danish Winter. The light and sky in these days are so dull, boring and depressing it’s like all the colours and light in the world was stolen by a black hole in the ‘Verse. Days like that my camera does not get a work-out. I need my extraordinary light fix and will chase it forever!

Here are some examples of my never ending quest for extraordinary light and as you can see cloudy days work fine as long as they’re dramatic!
(as always, click to see large size on my website)

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Storm approaching Brisbane. Some very dramatic clouds passing us quickly.

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Winter Sunset in Copenhagen. Just after sunset and the few sunny days here in Winter can provide some nice colours

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Just a perfect clear warm sunny day on Fraser Island – but with nice fluffy clouds

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Hail storm in Copenhagen. A unique shot on a unique day, I have yet to see this sort of storm in Copenhagen again. Half the sky was pitch black, the other half was clear and allowed the setting sun (behind me) to light up the buildings.

Well – I’m off to look at either Qantas flights or hibernation possibilities!

Shooting stitched panoramas

Last week I talked about shooting cropped panoramas – this week I’ll cover shooting stitched panoramas. Stitching is the process of shooting several photos and using software to stitch them into one panorama (vertical or horizontal). I’ll assume you know all the basics of shooting stitched panos, this post will focus on my experiences of shooting them.

Visualizing the end product in a cropped panorama can be a bit tricky but at least you still have the shot in your viewfinder – with a stitched pano you really have to exercise your imagination! I’ll focus on shooting the stitched panorama in the field – not the stitching. Get the shot right and stitching is not too hard.

Let’s kick off with an example, a wide view that is only possibly using stitching (unless you own a 6x17cm panorama camera!). This is a very wide view of Brisbane (click to see large):

Click to see large size on my gallery!

This shot is made up of 5 horizontal images stitched together using the brilliant PTgui software. The final product of this pano is 5600 pixels wide (enough for a good 150cm wide print) and looks fantastic.

To illustrate the components, here’s a screenshot from PTgui’s “align panorama” window allowing you to clearly see the 5 images:

pt-gui-stitch-brisbane

As you can see I cropped a lot of the panorama after stitching it and this is how you should normally do it – always leave a wide margin for cropping later, already in the stitching process you loose quite a bit of the top and bottom when the images are warped and stitched together. In this case I actually have a bit too much margin but never mind. I also decided to crop a lot of the right side after seeing the stitch. Notice how much overlap of the images I have, this is important.

Shooting the stitched pano in the field

The above shot is almost 100% automatically stitched by PTgui. I think I may have manually deleted one or two control points and of course I aligned the horizon manually. Apart from that PTgui did all the magic with a flawless result because I took great care in shooting this in the field. So how did I do it? I use these rules:

  • Visualize. This is the most important part (just ask Ansell Adams). You cannot see the end product here, you have to visualize it.
  • Use RAW. You really really have to shoot raw for stitched panos. You need the images to be 100% identical and only raw allows this. If you must shoot jpeg (why?) then it is really important to set manual white balance.
  • Everything on manual control! Shutter speed, aperture, iso and focus absolutely must be on manual control so they don’t change between shots. Oh and don’t zoom in or out between shots!
  • Find the correct exposure, like in the example above part of your panorama will like include much brighter sky than other parts. So get the exposure right, you don’t want to burn out the highlights in half the pano!
  • I practice the sweep several times before shooting the images. I sweep from left to right but it doesn’t matter really. Practice the sweep or you’ll start shooting and discover that your body can’t actually rotate 180 degrees around your spinal cord!
  • Don’t rotate around my body. I start off with spread legs, right foot in front and lean forward (like I’m the karate kid). I then concentrate on rotating around the lens nodal point when doing the shoot. I use my legs to rotate, keeping my upper body still. At least you have to focus on rotating around the camera, keeping the camera in one spot and. This is very important, fail this and you’ll introduce some heavy parallax errors in the stitching.
  • If using a tripod for this you should use a panorama head or you’ll almost make it worse by using a tripod (since you’re rotating around the tripod screw in the camera, not the nodal point).
  • It’s a good idea to zoom in to at least 35mm so you don’t introduce too much barrel distortion from your lens. Don’t zoom in too tight. You need plenty of  margin for stitching and cropping.
  • Overlap! Create overlaps by at least 30% but 50% is better.
  • You need to keep the horizon in the same place in every shot. If shooting a horizontal panorama then I just stick the horizon in the middle. It’s easier to keep it in the middle from shot to shot and I’m cropping it later anyway.
  • If I’m shooting stitched panoramas in the Australian outback – the hardest part of all is actually ignoring the flies crawling into my nose, eyes and ears!

Practice this again and again and you’ll get so good at shooting the separate images that the next bit – stitching the images is very easy and almost automated! That’s why I’ll only briefly cover it here in the next paragraphs, I find that the shooting part is by far the most important.

Developing the raw files

One rule here: the adjustments you make to the raw images must be 100% identical! That means you can easily do you normal RAW development, set the white balance, exposure, fill light, black and white point, saturation, curves etc. But do this on one of the photos and then copy these adjustments to all of the shots! They must be 100% identical or they won’t stitch properly.

Stitching and software

I use PTgui and I find it amazing, it is an incredible piece of work and easily worth the money. There are several other commercial super stitch programs as well but you can easily learn by using some of the free stitch programs. A free stitch program is probably included in your camera software, or try the free demo of AutoStitch.

More examples

Have a look at my two panorama galleries, the main panorama gallery and the Australia panorama gallery for many more examples of both cropped and stitched panos. Feel free to comment or email me with any questions!

It’s a panoramic world for me

I love panoramas and always have and I’m really satisfied with how digital photography has enabled me to shoot my panoramic visions without owning a panorama camera. I think my eyes have a built in 3:1 aspect ratio because that is how I see the world: 

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Head up in the clouds and a big wide view!

A final word of warning: shooting panoramas is very addictive 😀 You may find the standard 3:2 format useless after shooting a lot of panoramas and having been bitten by the pano bug (and flies, mozzies etc. in the outback!)

Stormchasing in Brisbane

“Everywhere you go – always take the weather with you” goes the classic song from aussie band Crowded House and so far I have done just that. The first day I got to Brisbane it was cloudy, windy and only 22-23 degrees (bloody freezing cold when you come from tropical Cairns!). The next day it was warm and sunny and as Spring has really hit Brisbane the temperature and humidity has gone up every day since with some 33-34 degree days! So I have indeed brought the weather with me. Spring in Brisbane has added something I didn’t bring: thunderstorms! It’s a natural part of Spring in the tropics and the last few days have brought some impressive storms late afternoon and some much needed rain for Brissy.

Storms and the dramatic cloud formations and lightning are excellent for photography – just make sure you can quickly find some cover so you and your equipment doesn’t drown and/or get hit by lightning! Tropical storms can come and go fast! I managed to chase and catch a Brisbane thunderstorm the other day at sunset and here’s a one hour sequence (as always click on picture to see large size):

Click to see larger size on my web - (c) Flemming Bo Jensen

5.33 pm – sunset, something is going on in Sky Theater

Click to see larger size on my web - (c) Flemming Bo Jensen

6.03 pm – a storm definitely on it’s way!

Click to see larger size on my web - (c) Flemming Bo Jensen

6.10 pm – storm is here – run Forest, run for cover now!

Click to see larger size on my web - (c) Flemming Bo Jensen

6.30 pm – I am safe under a roof at the Eagle Street Pier shooting lightning

The shot at 6.10pm was shot just as the rain was coming – I ran for cover and made it to the Eagle Street Pier just as the very heavy rain hit. It was a fairly impressive storm; it raged for about 30 minutes and then it was gone as quickly as it appeared. It was heaps of fun chasing and shooting it, from where I shot I knew I could get to cover in 2 minutes so no worries. Also very cool to get shots with actual lightning in it, a first for me. I know it’s not the worlds largest bolt of lightning but hey it’s there and I captured it and feel I can now add ‘Stormchaser’ to my business card!

There are a few more new Brisbane shots in my gallery.

Randomness

  • My hair was fairly long when I got here, it grows fast as it is and I think the sun here helped it even more (and bleached it as well). So it was longer than ever and I had two choices: get a haircut or buy a surfboard (to go with my long bleached surfer hair). I opted for the haircut. Now; of course I made the mistake of saying the words “it’s too long; you can cut a fair bit off” to a hair dresser ‘cos they just love doing very short David Beckham style cuts and I am no Beckham. Bugger! Now it is too bloody short. I should have gone for the surfboard. Grow hair, grow!
  • These are tough times. The Australian national Rugby team (called The Wallabies) has been playing in the Rugby World Championship in France. Now, no one plays Rugby like the Aussies and The Wallabies are the best bloody Rugby team in the world bar none strewth! Nothing short of winning the finals is acceptable; actually Australia should just be named World Champs of all time. Unfortunately, real life got it the way and last Saturday Australia lost to England in the quarter final. Not only did the Wallabies lose in the quarter finals…but to England. No no no no 😦 These are indeed hard times. Now; the only way to deal with this is the way Australians always deal with any defeat in any sport – complete denial!!! “No that never happened, we never lost to England, England can’t play rugby!”

Quote of the day:

“We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it” – Flemming Bo Jensen

I take credit for this one 🙂 I know I probably didn’t invent it but I’ve used it heaps especially at work!

Brisneyland after Dark

“You take a picture too with my camera yes?” asks Japanese tourist #20
“Ehmm, no I can’t I gotta stop now” I say…
“I am very very sorry but I have to shoot my own pictures now!”

I am completely alone at the Kangaroo Cliffs look-out with a gorgeous view of Brisbane; ready to shoot a long exposure cityscape. Not a soul around and the light is phenomenal, even a few clouds have announced their presence making the scene even better. I have camera and tripod set up and have already shot the sunset now waiting for my dusk shot.  All of a sudden… a big bus of Japanese tourists comes to a screeching halt and about 30 people with 150 cameras jump out and run around all over the place! They all have to get group photos of course and take turns shooting the other 29 standing in front of the city – until they spot me! Now they have a photographer and I suddenly have 150 cameras! They’re all extremely nice and polite and I don’t mind helping them at all and shooting their pictures but after 10 minutes of shooting with a lot of posing in different positions by them and switching cameras and fiddling with buttons and menus by me (I hate digital compacts, impossible to use) – I have to say “stop, my light is disappearing, gotta go use my own camera, I am so very sorry!” So each and everyone of them thanks me a million times and jump on their bus and off they go again as fast as they appeared – and I have a funny story and just enough time to get the late dusk light and shoot this:

Click to see larger size My shot of ‘Brisneyland’ at dusk, from Kangaroo Cliffs look-out

Brissy, Brisvegas, Brisneyland…Brisbane seems to attract a lot of nicknames from everyone not living here. Most locals will tell you though that this is just jealousy from Aussies from the South! Brisbane is now recognised as one of the best cities to live in Australia and Brisbane is the fastest growing city down here, growing at a rate of about 1000 people moving here a week! The population of Brisbane is currently around 1,7 million although that number is an estimate; no one seems to know the actual number. Like a lot of places in mid- and southern Australia Brisbane is in the middle of the the worst drought in recorded history, quite critical really and we’re on level 5 water restrictions here and you really have to watch your use of water. There’s something like 17% of the normal water level in the water reserves and Brisbane could potentially run out of water a year from now unless some serious rain saves everyone come Summer. Scary stuff but reality for a lot of Australians!

Click to see larger size

I really like Brisbane, it’s a lot like Copenhagen – all the perks of a big city but without actually being a big city. It’s still small and compact enough that you can get around easily on foot and the Brisbane River and the parks and botanical gardens makes sure that the huge highrises are not allowed to completely dominate the landscape. The architecture could not be more different to Copenhagen; most buildings are brand new and very tall steel, concrete and glass highrises dominate the cityscape and reach for the sky (see my shot to the left) giving it a bit of a Metropolis or Blade Runner sci-fi look to Scandinavian eyes. The river is utilised extremely well with lots of boardwalks and public spaces overlooking the river and providing heaps of spots to shoot from! Add all of this up and you have one brilliant town for me to shoot some cityscapes (something I believe I am rather good at) at dusk where all the lights here come alive and mix with the light of dusk – by far best time to shoot cityscapes (and get attacked by swarms of mozzies!).

Here’s a few of the best, many more in my gallery:

Click to see larger size Click to see larger size

It was a culture shock landing here though. After spending over a month in places like Darwin, Uluru and Cairns I wasn’t prepared for hectic big-city life, noise, shops, traffic and people absolutely everywhere etc. The first day I got here it was windy and cold (only about 22-23c degrees) and I was freezing. Well the heat is back, ever since then it’s been close to 30c degrees every day and sunny! I do miss one thing though: the outback and the outback feel of much smaller cities like Darwin and Cairns. There’s nothing even remotely outback about Brissy, this is big-city life!

RAndomness

  • Emo-kids. What a strange phenomenon (albeit not one that should bother anyone they don’t seem to bother anyone, they’re just…dark and emotional I guess). Maybe you know them, maybe you’ve seen them (they seem to spread worldwide, like an epidemic you find them everywhere). Here’s Wikipedia’s definition. I saw no Emo-kids in Darwin or Cairns I guess in the tropics it must simply be too hot to be an Emo-kid and wear all those black clothes and the weather is just too good to be depressed and emotional! Either that or they’ve all simply moved South because here in Brisbane there is like a convention of Emo-kids and there are heaps of them! Must be Emo-Kid headquarters, maybe I have found the source and this is where it all started and the Emo-Kid queen is hiding somewhere here?
  • Too everyone who wears ‘Crocs’ shoes (another worldwide epidemic, pandemic I believe it’s called) I apologise beforehand….But please take them off and burn them and apologise for ever wearing them! Yes they look awful! Yes I don’t care you think they’re comfortable. No they don’t go with any of your clothes especially since you bought the pink ones. Yes it makes it even worse you bought Crocs for your entire family! It’s a pandemic I tell ya, world wide emergency and UN must do something now!
  • Health, exercise and albatross update: The other day it hit me. I feel physically great. Really good. I used to get headaches a lot like every other day but I haven’t had a single headache since I went on this trip! It must be all the exercise I am doing hehe! Actually I am doing alright, running and exercising every day so I reckon I get as much exercise as I got back home. The albatross is presently making life dangerous for people on the Eagle Street pier boardwalk here in Brisbane. You have been warned! Btw whenever you fly in helicopters or small planes they need to weigh you so when they do that I can tell if I have eaten too many chips and need to run and fall over some more 😀

Quote of the day:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. An Albatross running on Eagle Street Pier. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
– Batty in Blade Runner (with a small addition done by me)

I’m on tour next week (me and my band you know) so don’t know if I’ll have much internet access before next Saturday – see ya then mates!

Humpback Whales in Moreton Bay

Click to see larger size

My shot of a humpback whale calf doing a breach with Moreton Island in the background

I am currently in Brisbane in South Queensland and this is one of if not the best spot in Australia to go whale watching! The main reason for this is Moreton Bay; each year the southern humpback whales migrate to and from Antarctica and the whales seem to love Moreton Bay. They don’t just pass through in their migration they feed, mate and play in the crystal clear and clean sea of Moreton Bay. Another reason is actually that there are only two whale watching boats allowed in Moreton Bay and they run at different times of the day so when you find a pot of whales the boat can stay with them as long as possible, there are no other boats to consider – you got it all for yourself. This is brilliant since humpback whales are the most surface active whales and are naturally curious so often they will come close to the boat to check you out!

Brisbane Whale Watching is one of the two whale watching boats and this is the second time I’ve been on their custom built Eye-Spy catamaran and it’s a fantastic experience. I’ve written a blog post about this before, click here to read it, here’s what we saw this time.

One hour out of Redcliffe (about 30 mins. from Brisbane) we spot the first pot (a group of whales that travel together is called a pot) of whales and quickly spot pot 2 and 3 – there are whales all around us! They’re unfortunately not that interested in us and travel fast so after trying to keep pace with them we turn South to travel with the wind (making it a bit more comfortable for those passengers without sea legs) and look for other pots. It takes a while but suddenly we discover a mother and her very young baby calf playing just off the coast of Moreton Island! The calf is doing big breaches and tail slaps and it’s such a thrill to witness these large and graceful mammals; these gentle giants playing and it is a very humbling and inspiring experience (how some countries can still allow commercial whaling is beyond me – stop it now please!)

Now photographing these giants is an event all in itself. It is incredibly hard. They breach the surface with no warning and you have to be faster than Lucky Luke to draw your camera and shoot away and get a shot – with one hand! You’re holding on to the railing with your other hand ‘cos the boat is getting kicked around by short ‘n hard choppy waves that makes you feel like you’re riding a huge rodeo horse. And spend too much time looking through the viewfinder and you will definitely get motion sickness (you have to shoot with both eyes open)! It’s extremely fun and challenging (and NOT for people who get seasick!) On the top deck of the catamaran with a 360 degree view of the ocean it hits you that the ocean is rather large and the chances of a big humpback doing a big breach near the boat in the direction I am presently looking AND me reacting fast enough to shoot it AND actually getting the whale in the viewfinder AND getting the shot in focus etc – are very small to say the least! Wildlife photography is the ultimate patience tester I reckon. I managed some shots I am happy with, some a bit out of focus but even the USM focus in my L lenses had trouble keeping up! Here’s a few, more on my gallery:

Click to see larger size

Humpback mother whale with calf doing a breach

Click to see larger size

Humpback calf doing a big breach

It is so much fun and seeing humpback whales in their environment is such a phenomenal experience (and not an easy thing to experience living in Copenhagen) I may very well end up going again while I’m here in Brisbane!

PS. This really is not for people who get seasick. The sea was fairly rough and the catamaran gets kicked around a lot by the waves and a less fun part of working on the boat is cleaning up after people who involuntarily say hello again to their breakfast! You can just picture the job interview “So you’d love to work on our boat you say. Well, how do you feel about ehhhh…vomit?” I don’t get seasick, but eat a pill just in case – it’s extremely easy to induce motion sickness when you look through a camera viewfinder while you’re moving – try it if ya like, look through a viewfinder or a pair of binoculars and spin around a bit and look up and down at the same time – there ya’ go, instant motion sickness 😀

randomness

  • This weekend is the biggest of the year in Australian sports! Saturday it’s the AFL (Australian Football) grand final between Port Adelaide and Geelong and Sunday it’s the Rugby League grand final between The Melbourne Storm and Manly Sea Eagles. It doesn’t get any bigger than this, Australians love sports (so do I) so every pub will be packed and streets will be deserted! Both AFL and Rugby League are great action packed sports so I’m going to find the pub with the biggest screen and get some beers and join in the fun!
  • The Danish TV show “Rejseholdet” is shown on channel SBS down here, it’s called “Unit One”. I was channel surfing and landed on SBS, after a while I noticed that the actors looked familiar. Then I started listening, what is that? Then it hit me, they’re speaking Danish, that’s “Rejseholdet”. I haven’t heard or spoken one word of Danish since I left so it took a few secs to register. As some will know I happen to talk to myself on occasion or talk to my computer (don’t worry I don’t get into arguments with myself…now the computer is another story) but I always do that in English anyway!

Quote of the day (in Danish for a change):

“Lacour du tager gerningsstedet, Fischer afhører naboerne”

– in honour of “Rejseholdet” or “Unit One” as it’s known here.

Photographing whales

I just noticed that in my last post I happened to pick the first shot from my film strip header – so why not go through all of them as they are five of my favourite shots.

The next shot in the header above is a humpback whale tail. I love animals and shooting wildlife is heaps of fun. In this case it also felt a bit adventurous! The image is from last year, I was in Brisbane and went on a whale tour with Moreton Bay Whale Watching (highly recommended! I’ll be back this year to go again) just one day after a big storm (it actually blew a gale! they said this on channel 9 news “off the coast it blew a gale”. Very funny I thought!)…hang on where was I?

Right, I’m off in the big custom built catamaran with Skipper Kerry and the swells are 2-3 meters and that means when the boat is stationary and we’re scouting for whales it’s one big rollercoaster up and down big waves! Hold on! (to the boat…and your lunch!). So one hand on the railing and one hand holding my Canon 5D with 70-200mm f/4.0 L lens with shutter on continous and auto focus on servo, scout the horizon 360 degrees for whales and when you spot whales breaching – shoot! and keep shooting! With one hand, don’t let go of the railing or you’ll be chucked off the boat by the waves! We did this for about 3 hours and had a whale of a time so to speak, great fun! Half the people on the boat were seasick but I was happily shooting away at 3 frames per second, riding the waves and admiring these beautiful whales (some of them about the size of the boat). And this is one of the shots from that great day out in Moreton Bay:
Humpback whale tailSo the lesson for shooting wild life…hold on to the bloody boat for dear life! Oh and be aware, concentrated and be quick mate, wildlife waits for nobody!